Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has asked the Federal Government and the security agencies to stop trying to muzzle Nigerians anytime they come together to exchange ideas.
He stated that such a step could signal fear on the part of the government and that such reduces the people and the government itself.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that Soyinka spoke in Badagry on Saturday at the unveiling of an art gallery in commemoration of his 85th birthday.
The police, Nigerian Army and the Department of State Services on Monday in Lagos sealed off the venue for a symposium where Soyinka, rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, and others were to speak on the security issues in the country.
Police vehicles were positioned around the venue located at Oregun, Lagos. The programme tagged ‘Democracy, state repression and the state of insecurity in Nigeria’, was organised by Coalition for Revolution.
But speaking on Saturday, Soyinka, who thanked Femi Coker Art Gallery in Badagry for organising the event, said, “It is important to send strong message to this government and to the security services to stop trying to muzzle people when they come together to exchange ideas.
“You’re reducing them as human beings and you’re also reducing yourselves as human beings, because it means you’re afraid to listen.”
Soyinka also cautioned Nigerians not to believe everything they read on social media. He said they should instead take such online materials “with a pinch of salt.
He said, “Be very, very careful what you believe even when you read such materials in social media or sometimes in newspapers because in this country, we have a most fertile multiplier effect.
“When somebody hears something, he puts it on the Internet, it spreads and an industry begins as people start commenting on things which never existed.
“Sometimes on social media, you’ll even see trending quotes supposedly from me, with my name, my photograph, with statements which represents what those people want to say but lacked the courage to say it.”